Ever thought your legal career could involve working beneath the coconut trees of some of the tiniest island nations in the Pacific? For the lawyers of one Australian firm, it's all in a day's work.
John Ridgeway recognised a need to form a legal service addressing the needs of the Pacific when he worked as a lawyer in Vanuatu in the early 1990s. Later - after stints at the then Blake Dawson Waldron, Clayton Utz and finally Tresscox - he eventually formed Pacific Legal Network (PLN) Lawyers, in a bid to use the contacts he had made across the Pacific to form a network of law firms for a legal referral service.
Speaking to Lawyer2B this week, Ridgeway explained how his firm - which has six lawyers and himself as the sole partner - helps clients obtain legal services across English, French and American parts of the Pacific, including areas as diverse as the Cook Islands, Fiji, American Samoa, French Polynesia, Nauru, and Kiribati.
"Our firm offers the ability to provide a co-ordinated legal service - to control and maintain the quality of the responses and make life easier for our key corporate clients," he said.
Ridgeway said that his firm is also the only international firm to offer direct legal services across such diverse parts of the Pacific.
The firm can also boast some unique employment opportunities and experience for lawyers. His last three associates have gone on to work for the UN and multinational banks.
Not surprisingly, the firm is a competitive and popular source of employment young lawyers. "We usually like people who have done something different with their lives, people who have travelled a lot, are sensitive to other cultures, people who are prepared to back themselves as well," he said. "It's a bit like a mini UN."
And Ridgeway has a warning for any future lawyers who might join the firm. "There is a lot of travel," he said. "We work in places where young lawyers are quite happy to travel into the Pacific islands and stay in three-star hotels and work under a coconut tree. I did that for a number of years and I'm now grateful that I've got other people to do that for me."